How to keep your resolutions in the new year
TRI-COUNTY AREA--New Year's resolutions can have a positive impact on people's lives, but only if they are done right. Mental and physical health experts across the Finger Lakes region agree that the first mistake many people make when committing a New Year's resolution is aiming for too much too soon.
"Many resolutions are hard to sustain and people get discouraged if they don't meet their goals quickly and they give up. It can make you feel more like a failure, and that can have a negative impact on what you are trying to fix. So choose something that is actually attainable, smaller goals tend to be better than bigger ones," said Cheryl Pruett, psychologist with a private practice in Watkins Glen specializing in adults.
Despite the fact that so many resolutions are discarded away quickly, Pruett said using the new year as a catalyst to attempt positive life changes can be a good idea.
"We're always hopeful at the beginning of the year, it's like a clean slate we can start anew, and hope is very important for motivation. People usually do want to make some changes, and this can help serve as a catalyst for that," she said.
When it comes to mental health, Pruett said she always recommends that people make a more conscious attempt to remain grounded in the moment.
"It's healthy to be more mindful, staying in the moment and not worry as much, it's a better approach to the future. And the other thing I say is to remember to be appreciative, or grateful no matter what the circumstance is. We focus on what we don't have instead of what we do have," Pruett said.
One of the challenges that many people face when making a resolution to be more fit in the Finger Lakes is that January is cold and the options for getting out of the house are limited.
"We always see an uptick in (gym attendance) after the new year because everyone has made a resolution to get healthy and lose weight and get back on the bandwagon of getting fit. Not even half I think actually pull it off," said Dawn Shipman, fitness manager for the Yates Community Center.
The key to fulfilling a resolution is to set small attainable goals so that you set yourself on a positive trajectory and get used to being successful.
"So it doesn't have to be I'll spend an hour a day in the gym every day, that's daunting, five minutes on a treadmill every day might lead to 10 then one day to an hour. Set yourself up for little victories," Shipman said.
Shipman went on to say that she doesn't even like using the term resolutions and instead prefers intentions.
"When making the intentions and writing it down you are more likely to do what you said you would do. [This] will make a difference, you will be happier and you will feel better. It really does work, then before you know it you are above and beyond what you expected. It's better than a resolution because it can last a lifetime," Shipman said.
Leslie Elliot, a registered dietitian and owner of Smart Nutrition in Bluff Point, agreed that writing down small daily goals can have a positive impact.
"A good resolution would be to create an action plan, so set actionable goals. Working out three times a week or a piece of fruit after dinner or planning meals ahead of time. A good example is 'I'm going to drink additional glasses of water every day.' Something you can put on a list and check it off at the end of the day saying I accomplished this," Elliot said.
Elliot noted it is important to pinpoint the reason for a resolution and not to just make a resolution because it is hip or sounds good.
"Is it because you want to be more active with your kids? It's important to know what you are working towards," Elliot said.
Another thing Elliot, Shipman and Pruett agreed on is that it is important to not get discouraged.
"Slow and steady wins the race, pace yourself, start with a small change and build from there, people tend to give up because they expect big changes very quickly and when it doesn't happen they give up. Work towards small action plans, start with something simple like an extra serving of vegetables and that will help you stay on track. Stay positive, don't give up, every day is a new opportunity to focus on your goal and to work towards your achievements," Elliot said.